Saturday, January 02, 2010

Day trip

I've been meaning to write about our excursion to Santa Barbara on Wednesday. G had been on an overnight train trip before, as well as a shorter one, but she was three and a half the first time and six the second time, so she didn't remember either trip and was intrigued by the idea. Intrigued enough, in fact, that she was willing to forgo her preferred vacation schedule of sleeping in until 10 or 11 and get up at dawn to catch the train.

It was cold on the platform at 7:30 a.m.

Chilly mist and trees through the train window. See that bit of G's book in the lower right-hand corner? It won't be the last time you see it.

The ride to Santa Barbara takes just under four hours. For the last hour(ish), you're right beside the ocean.

We got off the train at about 11:30 in the morning and walked down to the waterfront, where we ate pizza and waited for the misty drizzle to stop. When it was over, we walked to the end of Stearns Wharf, admired the view, and watched a lone seal swimming in the ocean. On the sand, we also saw one of the more original approaches to panhandling I've ever encountered:

The sign propped against the table says "Just Plain Hungry" and the one below the donation bowl says "Make a Wish," inviting passersby to throw money off the pier. The creator of this diorama was about 10 yards away, working on an amazingly good sand sculpture of a mermaid. I gave him a dollar for creativity.

Next, we took the electric shuttle up to the top of State Street and walked down, stopping in various shops along the way. This photo was right outside Borders, where G used some of her Christmas money to buy the next three books in the series she was reading.

This was actually a bit of a problem, because all she wanted to do was read. Every time I turned around, she'd sat down somewhere and started reading again. We finally found a coffee shop and spent a long time there, having tea and cocoa and croissants, so she could get some reading in. They had a really cool machine that was roasting the coffee beans right out in the open, and I made her put down her book for two minutes to go and look at it. She wasn't impressed.

Eventually we made our way back to the train station to wait for the train home. The station was built in 1905 and had some interesting bits in it, including this random fireplace located in the women's restroom, which I imagine was probably in the original station and got built around during a renovation. There was a defunct iron radiator to the right of it, providing train travelers of the past with options for keeping warm.

We'd had a nonstop train on the way up, but coming home we had to change trains at Union Station in Los Angeles. G had finished her book and started the second one in the series at that point, and she spent our 45 minutes there leaning against a pillar, oblivious to the Art Deco architecture all around her, as she read on. I was exactly like this as a kid, so I empathize, but at the same time, I now know why my parents were always nagging me to "take your nose out of that book and look at [the Lincoln Memorial/the Empire State Building/those skydiving nuns]."

Anyway, it was a pleasant day, despite G being distracted most of the time. I think if we were to go again, I'd want to stay at a hotel - there are some nice-looking ones on State Street - and have more time to see some of the other sights, including the museums and the mission. G said she'd be up for that, so perhaps we'll try a weekend trip later in the year.


zandra said...

Did you go in the fabulous Mom and Pop vintage store on State Street? I also have been wanting to plan a weekend in SB later this year since it never panned out for us last year.

Phyllis S said...

What a cool trip. And gotta love 'get your nose out of the book and go look at the coffee roasting'.

I'm sure she'll blog about that one day :-).

MomToAp said...

Sounds like a really good trip... Though I can't honestly blame her about the book.. I read the series myself over the summer ( Alex got the first one free) and they are really good books... Oh and I was a walk and read girl as a kid so fellow walk and read girls make me smile...

Jen said...

Ah, I love Santa Barbara. I'll have to look into the train schedule from Northern California. I was a voracious reader like G when I was a kid, and I remember my parents saying exactly the same thing. At least she's up for doing another trip!

Vanessa said...

Zandra - I was looking out for that store because I remembered you mentioning it, but I didn't see it. I did see a closed storefront with a handwritten sign from the owners (a man and woman) saying they'd gone out of business and thanking their customers - I hope that wasn't it!

Humincat said...

Yep, constantly having to tell my kid "That book stays in the car!" or "Stop reading, I'm starting to forget the color of your eyes!" or "If we go, are you going to participate, or just read the whole time?" My friends laugh when they here me say these things, but seriously, I want to interact with her more than the occasional glance up to make sure I'm still there. And how did you pick the ONE cloudy/drizzly day to take a trip to the beach?! :)